CHECKLISTS

Timothy and Titus – Inconspicuous Leadership

1 Timothy 5 checklistI am a list maker…even in retirement from my secular work. For me, what doesn’t get listed, doesn’t get done. It is also very rewarding for me to check that item off the list when it is accomplished. The list has a progression of priorities. One task cannot happen until another task is completed. And so life goes with my lists guiding my behavior and productivity.

As I journal each morning in my conversational prayer with God, the Father, His Spirit guides me to make another list that helps me to mature and grow in Him. I am convicted of some of those “fruits of the Spirit” that I have not tended to or cultivated, have ignored or left undone. His Holy Spirit redirects my thoughts and helps me form a list of tasks that will help me improve my behavior. “Keep a close check on yourself”, writes Paul to Timothy. For me, that means to make a spiritual checklist that keeps me in close contact with the will and purpose of our Father, God and helps me to grow closer to Him.

We can do nothing of significance without God. I am convinced that He guides us to all things that are good for our growth and aid our learning about Him and how He works. Paul also gives Timothy sound advice about how to treat those whom God has called to lead with character traits with another list of how to lead. This list still applies to us today. The theme of this episode seems to be; Know God, Know Yourself, Know The Message, Know Your Audience. Our deeds, good and bad, will be evident. Be driven by God’s love in us.

1 Timothy 5, The Message

17-18 Give a bonus to leaders who do a good job, especially the ones who work hard at preaching and teaching. Scripture tells us, “Don’t muzzle a working ox” and “A worker deserves his pay.”

19 Don’t listen to a complaint against a leader that isn’t backed up by two or three responsible witnesses.

20 If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it.

21-23 God and Jesus and angels all back me up in these instructions. Carry them out without favoritism, without taking sides. Don’t appoint people to church leadership positions too hastily. If a person is involved in some serious sins, you don’t want to become an unwitting accomplice. In any event, keep a close check on yourself. And don’t worry too much about what the critics will say. Go ahead and drink a little wine, for instance; it’s good for your digestion, good medicine for what ails you.

24-25 The sins of some people are blatant and march them right into court. The sins of others don’t show up until much later. The same with good deeds. Some you see right off, but none are hidden forever.

1 Timothy 5 check yourselfLEADERSHIP PRINCIPLE #6: Keep a Close Check on Yourself

Leadership Characteristics –

–Fully rely on God. Trust Him with all you are and all you have. We are His. All we have is His.
–Ask God “if there is anything offensive to you, cleanse me.” as the Psalmist prayed.
–Repent with a heart and mind not wanting to return to the old life.
–Look full into the face of Jesus, our Master, Lord and Savior with laser focus so we know what direction to take next.
–“Keep a close check on yourself.” Avoid, “he did it, I can, too” or “my sin is not as bad as his sin” or “everybody’s doing it” mentality.
–Ask God for wisdom, insight and understanding.
–Allow God’s transformation to continue in our lives.
–Ask God to make your lists of to BE and to DO. HE will prioritize your lists in ways you cannot imagine! Where He guides, He provides help all along the journey.
–Do all in a Spirit of love for God and others.
–Care enough to confront others with God’s love and concern for their spiritual well-being and growth.

Warning   The things on our spiritual check list can never be crossed off because we’ll be working on them our whole lives. By listing we are reminding ourselves of what we need to work on to “keep a close check” on our lives. It is only by The Atonement of Jesus Christ can we accomplish anything of eternal significance.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have convinced me that we must do spiritual “business” with You each day to improve our being in You. Thank you for helping us on this journey. Thank you for Your Holy Spirit that points out things in our behavior that could cause us to crash…before crashing. Thank you for always being with us, guiding and directing, loving and protecting and challenging us to grow and bear Fruit. Continue to transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world through your church.
In Jesus Name, Amen

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WORSHIP – HEARTLESS, HYPOCRITICAL OR HONEST?

God the Judge summons the court (vv. 1-6) and confronts two offenders: the formalist, to whom worship is a ritual to follow (vv. 7-15), and the hypocrite, to whom worship is a disguise to cover sin (vv. 16-21). The psalm closes with a call to all honest worshippers to be faithful to God (vv. 22-23).

Who IS a true worshipper of God?  Who are we as worshippers of God?

HONEST

The honest and true worshipper has a proper fear of the Lord and seeks only to honor Him in his worship. He obeys God’s will (“orders his way aright,” nasb) and is able to experience (“see”) the salvation of the Lord. When you combine these characteristics with verses 14 and 15–gratitude to God, obedience, prayer, and a desire to glorify God–you have a description of worshippers who bring joy to the heart of God.

HEARTLESS

Worship is not about what I do in outward appearance, it is what is in my heart when I worship the God of all.  I am reminded of what God said to Samuel when choosing a king, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7) We cannot  judge the heart like God can so we should not judge how a person worships God. 

Do we bring God down to where we are in our thinking, and proceed to humanize Him?  What a dangerous activity!  God is God whether we choose to believe Him or not.  We cannot and should not try to describe God in ways that satisfy our finite minds.  God is beyond all human thinking.  We should not humanize God with traits of darkness that God does not possess.  “He is Light and in Him is no darkness.”  See 1 John 1:5. Only God’s Word can describe Him in ways that give Him glory and honor.  Stick to God’s Word, for His Word is Truth.  God Word is unchanging, unlike our minds and viewpoints.

What the Lord wanted from His people was thanksgiving from their hearts, obedience to His Word, prayer, and a desire to honor Him in everything (vv. 14-15). What the Lord doesn’t want is ritualism or done only by habit. He wants our worship to come from the heart.

HYPOCRITICAL

This Psalm also addressed “the wicked,” the Israelites in the covenant community who were reciting the creed with their lips but deliberately disobeying God’s law. After breaking God’s law, they would go to the sanctuary and act very religious so they could cover up their sins. God is long-suffering with sinners, but these wicked people interpreted God’s silence as His approval. Their thinking was so confused that they ended up creating a god in their own image (v. 21). God was in the hands of ignorant sinners! They had forgotten God (Rom. 1:22-28) and didn’t want Him to interfere with their lifestyle. They had a false confidence that they could sin and get away with it. 

Time to confess and commit.  Which category do we find ourselves?  Heartless, Hypocritical, or Honest in our worship of God for Who He really is, God of all, in all because He created all.

The right choice leads to salvation and life forevermore with God!  “As soon as you set your foot on the Way, I’ll show you my salvation.”

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 50, The Message

1-3 The God of gods—it’s God!—speaks out, shouts, “Earth!”
    welcomes the sun in the east,
    farewells the disappearing sun in the west.
From the dazzle of Zion,
    God blazes into view.
Our God makes his entrance,
    he’s not shy in his coming.
Starbursts of fireworks precede him.

4-5 He summons heaven and earth as a jury,
    he’s taking his people to court:
“Round up my saints who swore
    on the Bible their loyalty to me.”

The whole cosmos attests to the fairness of this court,
    that here God is judge.

7-15 “Are you listening, dear people? I’m getting ready to speak;
    Israel, I’m about ready to bring you to trial.
This is God, your God,
    speaking to you.
I don’t find fault with your acts of worship,
    the frequent burnt sacrifices you offer.
But why should I want your blue-ribbon bull,
    or more and more goats from your herds?
Every creature in the forest is mine,
    the wild animals on all the mountains.
I know every mountain bird by name;
    the scampering field mice are my friends.
If I get hungry, do you think I’d tell you?
    All creation and its bounty are mine.
Do you think I feast on venison?
    or drink draughts of goats’ blood?
Spread for me a banquet of praise,
    serve High God a feast of kept promises,
And call for help when you’re in trouble—
    I’ll help you, and you’ll honor me.”

16-21 Next, God calls up the wicked:

“What are you up to, quoting my laws,
    talking like we are good friends?
You never answer the door when I call;
    you treat my words like garbage.
If you find a thief, you make him your buddy;
    adulterers are your friends of choice.
Your mouth drools filth;
    lying is a serious art form with you.
You stab your own brother in the back,
    rip off your little sister.
I kept a quiet patience while you did these things;
    you thought I went along with your game.
I’m calling you on the carpet, now,
    laying your wickedness out in plain sight.

22-23 “Time’s up for playing fast and
    loose with me.
I’m ready to pass sentence,
    and there’s no help in sight!
It’s the praising life that honors me.
    As soon as you set your foot on the Way,
I’ll show you my salvation.”

TRUTH: “It’s the praising life that honors me.  As soon as you set your foot on the Way,
I’ll show you my salvation.” –God

Proverb 18:13-15, The Message

Answering before listening
    is both stupid and rude.

14 A healthy spirit conquers adversity,
    but what can you do when the spirit is crushed?

15 Wise men and women are always learning,
    always listening for fresh insights.

WISDOM:  Listen, not to answer, but to learn and understand.  The wise are always learning.  Leaders are learners.

Abba Father,

You are God and I am not.  I come to you with praise and thanksgiving for all you have done in my life, all you are doing and all you will do.  My life is in You.  My heart is yours forever.  My soul longs for you each morning.  My mind loves to be filled by your thoughts that are higher than my thoughts.  I love you, Lord with all that is in me.  Continue to remove all that offends you and make me holy before you.  This is my heart and this is my song to you today.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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TO DIE FOR…

“Ooh, that car is to die for!”  “You have to get that dress, it’s to die for!”  “Your home is so gorgeous, it’s to die for!”  We often to use this phrase to declare that something is the best life has to offer.  But, is it? 

Our Psalmist has different ideas about what is to die for.  “We aren’t immortal. We don’t last long.  Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.”  I know these words are not what we want to hear at the start of a new day with our “Daily Manna” from God.  But read all the words.  He is trying to get people to understand the folly of self-help, self-drive or self-anything.  It all ends in self-death.  Just death.

What are you thinking about or doing now, right now, that is “to die for”? 

I have a friend, Mike, who I met at our church while serving on hospitality teams.  He faithfully stood at the east door and welcomed all who entered with a hearty handshake and hello.  He brought two friends from his motorcycle club to come help him.  He wanted his friends to know and follow Jesus, too.  That’s how he got them to come, he asked them to serve with him.  Mike, a nurse practitioner, worked during the week at our local hospital.  When COVID hit and families couldn’t go in with their loved ones, Mike offered to be a guardian angel and check on their person and report back to the family. “Just call me and let me know”, said Mike. Mike is larger than life, loving to all and flexible, willing to help in all kinds of ways.  He’s not about self, he’s about others.  He loves Jesus and we all know it.

Over the past few months, Mike has had two heart attacks.  One last summer and one in the fall.  His heart is now failing him to the point doctors can no longer help him.  Mike lays in hospice waiting for a natural passing from this life to the one God has promised.  He is assured of where He is going next.  BUT, while he waits, he is one of our best online greeters for our church.  BUT wait, there’s more.  Mike has been giving out “Your Best Life Ever” bracelets (our churches’ way of promoting salvation at the moment) to all who come to visit or care for him while he is in his last days in hospice.  He is still serving as Jesus’ representative here on earth.

I ask this question of myself, again, and hope you will ask yourself the same as you read this morning.

What are you thinking about or doing now, right now, that is “to die for”?

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 49, The Message

1-2 Listen, everyone, listen—
    earth-dwellers, don’t miss this.
All you haves
    and have-nots,
All together now: listen.

3-4 I set plainspoken wisdom before you,
    my heart-seasoned understandings of life.
I fine-tuned my ear to the sayings of the wise,
    I solve life’s riddle with the help of a harp.

5-6 So why should I fear in bad times,
    hemmed in by enemy malice,
Shoved around by bullies,
    demeaned by the arrogant rich?

7-9 Really! There’s no such thing as self-rescue,
    pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.
The cost of rescue is beyond our means,
    and even then it doesn’t guarantee
Life forever, or insurance
    against the Black Hole.

10-11 Anyone can see that the brightest and best die,
    wiped out right along with fools and dunces.
They leave all their prowess behind,
    move into their new home, The Coffin,
The cemetery their permanent address.
    And to think they named counties after themselves!

12 We aren’t immortal. We don’t last long.
    Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.

13-15 This is what happens to those who live for the moment,
    who only look out for themselves:
Death herds them like sheep straight to hell;
    they disappear down the gullet of the grave;
They waste away to nothing—
    nothing left but a marker in a cemetery.
But me? God snatches me from the clutch of death,
    he reaches down and grabs me.

16-19 So don’t be impressed with those who get rich
    and pile up fame and fortune.
They can’t take it with them;
    fame and fortune all get left behind.
Just when they think they’ve arrived
    and folks praise them because they’ve made good,
They enter the family burial plot
    where they’ll never see sunshine again.

20 We aren’t immortal. We don’t last long.
    Like our dogs, we age and weaken. And die.

TRUTH:  Know what Mike knows, “We aren’t immortal.  We don’t last long.” Self-rescue is futile.  Have you tried to pull yourself up by your bootstraps, it’s physically impossible!  God sent His Son to save us and to give us eternal life with Him in a place of peace where there’s no more tears, troubles, confusion, sickness or…death.  Jesus defeated death, once and for all, going to hell and back for us, because of a love that was to die for!  God’s love for us.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  WE were to die for…

“But me? God snatches me from the clutch of death, he reaches down and grabs me.”

Mike knows this, I know this, do you?  If not, pray right now, don’t waste another precious minute! Ask Jesus to forgive you of all your sins.  Done.  “As far as the east is from the west”, your sins are gone, never to be remembered by God again.  You have nothing to lose and LIFE forever to gain.  Die to sin.  Live for Jesus.  That is to die for…

Proverb 18:10-12, The Message

God’s name is a place of protection—
    good people can run there and be safe.

11 The rich think their wealth protects them;
    they imagine themselves safe behind it.

12 Pride first, then the crash,
    but humility is precursor to honor.

WISDOM:  Run to God and stay there.  Ask God what He wants for what He wants for us is always the best.  Humble ourselves before our Father, God, the Creator of all, the God who saved us through His Son.

Abba Father,

YOU are God and we are not.  We can do nothing of significance without You.  You are the reason we live and breathe.  You want the best for us.  Only fools run from you. I do not want to be found among the foolish but to be found committed to you, in your care and keeping.  Thank you for helping me realize that I my soul was worth it to die for.  Thank you, Jesus for dying for me so that I can live forever with you. 

#forgiven  #forever

In Jesus Name, Amen

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THE STORY OF GOD

Our praise should be ever on our lips, every day, through good times and bad, for we are more than conquerors who believe what God says, He will do!  “Yet will I praise Him”, says Job who was tested by fire.  God’s Story is revealed in every one who says yes to Jesus, His Son, who was sent to save ALL who believe in this world. 

Our hearty yes is believing Jesus died on a cross for our sins and rose again to claim believers as His brothers and sister, joint heirs with Him!  Our hearty yes is knowing God is with us always, even when we can’t feel Him because of this sacrificial act of extreme Love. 

Our yes is giving God total credit for all the ways he works in our lives and in the lives of other people who love Him, too.  Our yes is giving back to God, our very bodies, (heart, mind and soul), as a living sacrifice for only then can we know His pleasing, perfect will for us. 

Our yes means laying down self for Someone greater, much greater than ourselves, our Creator, God.  Yes, He is God and we are not.  God created all and is in all.  We bow down to God in our yes and ask what He wants each day because what He wants is always right, good and the best for us.  This is the story of God expressed in this psalm of praise to Him today.  Yes, and Amen!

Telling of what God has done, is doing, and will do, is what’s required and necessary to help others find and follow Jesus and be saved from death.  The telling is best shown by reflecting God’s character growing in us by His Holy Spirit in our daily walk.  Actions more than words draws people to Jesus’ saving grace.  Look closely, between the lines of this psalm, and you will see wisdom expressed.  Words are good but action is proof!

What we have learned over the past few days of psalm reading is this:  Be still and know that He is God.  We learn that “be still” really means to let go of self, to look up and focus on God, and to expectantly wait on God to do what He does best in us and for us.  We have learned to recognize that He fights our battles while we are humbly on our knees before Him.  We have learned to give God all the glory with our unwavering praise and gratitude with shouting YES and AMEN which comes like a closing argument of testimony to God in the court of justice.  Yes, and Amen—I believe. 

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 48, The Message

A Psalm of the Sons of Korah

48 1-3 God majestic,
    praise abounds in our God-city!
His sacred mountain,
    breathtaking in its heights—earth’s joy.
Zion Mountain looms in the North,
    city of the world-King.
God in his citadel peaks
    impregnable.

4-6 The kings got together,
    they united and came.
They took one look and shook their heads,
    they scattered and ran away.
They doubled up in pain
    like a woman having a baby.

7-8 You smashed the ships of Tarshish
    with a storm out of the East.
We heard about it, then we saw it
    with our eyes—
In God’s city of Angel Armies,
    in the city our God
Set on firm foundations,
    firm forever.

9-10 We pondered your love-in-action, God,
    waiting in your temple:
Your name, God, evokes a train
    of Hallelujahs wherever
It is spoken, near and far;
    your arms are heaped with goodness-in-action.

11 Be glad, Zion Mountain;
    Dance, Judah’s daughters!
    He does what he said he’d do!

12-14 Circle Zion, take her measure,
    count her fortress peaks,
Gaze long at her sloping bulwark,
    climb her citadel heights—
Then you can tell the next generation
    detail by detail the story of God,
Our God forever,
    who guides us till the end of time.

TRUTH: “…tell the next generation detail by detail the story of God, Our God forever, who guides us till the end of time.”  How are we doing in the showing and telling of God’s greatness, Jesus saving grace and the careful guiding of His Holy Spirit?  I wonder.

Proverb 18, The Message

Words Kill, Words Give Life

18 Loners who care only for themselves
    spit on the common good.

Fools care nothing for thoughtful discourse;
    all they do is run off at the mouth.

When wickedness arrives, shame’s not far behind;
    contempt for life is contemptible.

Many words rush along like rivers in flood,
    but deep wisdom flows up from artesian springs.

WISDOM:  Deep wisdom comes from God alone.  “Loners” find themselves in troubles than can not solve.  Jesus is the “artesian spring” of Living Water that finally and forever quenches our thirst.  Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life.

Abba Father, Savior and Lord,

You have provided all we need at the right time, in your best timing over all the years we have been on this earth loving You and saying YES to Your Story of Redemption.  You have brought me to far to let go of You now.  I will let go of what I think, what little I know, and the things of this world I tightly grasp.  I come to you with open hands, unclenched, to receive all that you are waiting to give.  Abide in me as I abide in you.  For this is the only way to live.  Great IS your faithfulness!  To You be all glory, honor and praise.  Yes!  And Amen.

In Jesus Name, Amen

YES, AND AMEN by Chris Tomlin

Father of kindness
You have poured out of grace
You brought me out of darkness
You have filled me with peace
Giver of mercy
You’re my help in time of need
Lord I can’t help but sing

Faithful you are
Faithful forever you will be
Faithful you are
All your promises are yes and Amen
All your promises are yes and Amen

Beautiful Savior
You have brought me near
You pulled me from the ashes
You have broken every curse
Blessed redeemer
You have set this captive free
Lord I can’t help but sing

Faithful you are
Faithful forever you will be
Faithful you are
All your promises are yes and Amen
All your promises are yes and Amen

Faithful you are
Faithful forever you will be
Faithful yes you are
All your promises are yes and Amen

I will rest in your promises
My confidence is your faithfulness
I will rest in your promises
My confidence is your faithfulness…

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THE CALL TO WORSHIP!

Do you ever wonder why music is playing as you come into the church?  Do you wonder why the first song is an upbeat song of praise to the God who is, was and always will be?  Then wonder no more.  For centuries, what musicians were created to be and do has been written in the Psalms.  CALL all the people of God to worship!  This is the HEART of worship.  Raised hands, shouts of praise, smiles all around, sing the victory songs loud and strong to God and for God and no one else.  This is not a performance for each other; this call to worship is an admiration of praise to the One and Only we love first and most!  We were created to praise and worship our Creator! 

The promise of 46:10 is fulfilled in 47: “I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth”. Five times the people are commanded to “sing praises” to the Lord, who “reigns over the nations”.  This also makes it a messianic psalm, with an emphasis on the coming kingdom.  We see three declarations to God in this psalm, a call to worship to God with all we’ve got in us!

  1. Our God Is an Awesome King (vv. 1-4). We have moved from “Be still” (46:10) to shouting, clapping, and the blowing of trumpets. Jewish worship was enthusiastic, but they also knew how to be quiet before the Lord and wait upon Him…also worship.  Since the theme of the psalm is the kingship of the Lord, they worshipped Him the way they welcomed a new king.  “Clap your hands, all you people” was the joyous mantra!  The early church patterned its worship after the synagogue and emphasized prayer, the reading and expounding of Scripture, and the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. When the Jewish people clapped their hands and shouted, it was to the Lord in response to His marvelous works.  They did not do it to praise the people who participated in the worship service.  To know God is to know One who is awesome in all that He is, says, and does.
  1. 2. Our God Is a Triumphant King (v. 5). God fills heaven and earth, but when He acts on earth on behalf of His people, the Scriptures sometimes describe Him as “coming down.”  Then after victory “went up”.  From the human viewpoint, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ was a great defeat and tragedy, but not from God’s viewpoint. Jesus “came down” from heaven.  In His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus won the victory over the world and the Devil and satisfied the claims of God’s holy law so that sinners could believe and be saved. What a victory! He then ascended “went up” to heaven, far above every enemy (Eph. 1:19-22), where He sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high (Heb. 1:3).
  2. Our God Is King of Kings (vv. 6-9). A remarkable thing occurs: The rulers and peoples of the Gentile nations join Israel in praising the Lord Jehovah! He is not simply the God and King of Israel, but He is the “King of all the earth.” It was God’s plan when He called Abraham that Israel would be a blessing to all the earth, for “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).  Salvation came through Jesus for ALL nations.

Israel brought us the knowledge of the one true and living God, they gave us the Scriptures, and they gave us Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Today, Jews and Gentiles in the church are praising God together (Eph. 2:11.), and one day in the glorious kingdom, Jews and Gentiles will glorify and praise Him!

For God’s people, every day is Ascension Day as we praise and worship the exalted and ascended Lord.

THE CALL TO DEEPER WORSHIP…

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.  Romans 12:1-2, NIV

Come, let us worship our King right now, today!

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 47, The Message

1-9 Applause, everyone. Bravo, bravissimo!
    Shout God-songs at the top of your lungs!
God Most High is stunning,
    astride land and ocean.
He crushes hostile people,
    puts nations at our feet.
He set us at the head of the line,
    prize-winning Jacob, his favorite.
Loud cheers as God climbs the mountain,
    a ram’s horn blast at the summit.
Sing songs to God, sing out!
    Sing to our King, sing praise!
He’s Lord over earth,
    so sing your best songs to God.
God is Lord of godless nations—
    sovereign, he’s King of the mountain.
Princes from all over are gathered,
    people of Abraham’s God.
The powers of earth are God’s—
    he soars over all.

TRUTH:  We are called to praise and worship the God of all, Who is in all and created all.

Proverb 17:24-28, The Message

The perceptive find wisdom in their own front yard;
    fools look for it everywhere but right here.

25 A surly, stupid child is sheer pain to a father,
    a bitter pill for a mother to swallow.

26 It’s wrong to penalize good behavior,
    or make good citizens pay for the crimes of others.

27 The one who knows much says little;
    an understanding person remains calm.

28 Even dunces who keep quiet are thought to be wise;
    as long as they keep their mouths shut, they’re smart.

WISDOM:  The perceptive find wisdom when they ask God for it.  For this alone, is worthy of God’s praise, love, worship and admiration.

Abba Father, Lord and Savior,

We praise you for Who You have been to Your people, for Who You are to us, and for Who You will always be, the great I AM.  You are the Creator and Sustainer of Life.  You are Savior and Lord.  You are the Victor over all evil.  You are Compassionate and Merciful.  You are the only one who has the right to judge, yet You are full of grace and help us through our messes.  You are King of kings and Lord of lords.  You are Healer, Protector, and Provider.  You are God and we are not.  We praise You and You alone.  You are the only One who is worthy to be praised!  Thank you for Your Presence.  We come to you with only thanksgiving and joyful praise this very hour.  We will worship you all day long by hearing your voice above others and obeying you quickly.  I give myself, all of me, to you.  I’m at your service.  Speak to my heart.  Show me your Ways and what you want from me today.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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GOD’S WITNESS PROTECTION PLAN

FUN FACT:  The Witness Security Program was authorized by the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 and amended by the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984. The U.S. Marshals have protected, relocated and given new identities to more than 8,600 witnesses and 9,900 of their family members, since the program began in 1971.  The successful operation of this program is widely recognized as providing a unique and valuable tool in the government’s battle against major criminal conspirators and organized crime.  However, sometimes they were found out and it did not go well for the witnesses.

God’s witness protection program involves being given a “new identity”, too.  However, His protection is forever!  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16, NIV). When we believe and put our faith and trust in God, asking His Son, Jesus to forgive us, we become new creatures with souls that will live forever with him!  God’s protection involves tens of thousands of angel armies at our disposal here on earth when we call on Him for help!  Imagine the Creator of all, who knows all and is in all, protecting our precious souls because of His great love for us who believe? 

ENTER THE PLAN OF PROTECTION — “This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!”  2 Corinthians 5:17, NLT

BE THE WITNESS — “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”  1 Peter 2:9

Our new identity is Jesus Christ living in us, working on us, transforming us to be like Him in every way.  God protects us while this work is being done.  It will not be fully complete until we meet Him face to face in all of His glory. 

“Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:12-14, NIV

“Our God-of-Angel-Armies is always by our side”!  This song by Chris Tomlin is playing in the background as we read our next Psalm of praise to the God Who Protects.  He is ALWAYS by our side.  Sometimes, in the middle of pandemics, plagues, drought, hurricanes, financial ruin, lost jobs, lost loved ones, we don’t feel Him, but God is there.  Don’t trust your “feels” but trust that God is with you.  Call out to Him, He hears you!

You hear me when I call
You are my morning song
Though darkness fills the night
It cannot hide the light

Whom shall I fear

You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though troubles linger still

Whom shall I fear

I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind

The God of angel armies
Is always by my side…

Yes, to those who really believe what they believe to be really real, God is there.  We know He fights the battles that admittedly overwhelm us.  We know He hears us when we cry out to Him, for He is there.  We know to trust in Him alone for all that is going on around us.  We know that when we ask for wisdom to live skillfully in the world He created, we will receive it in abundance.  We know God will bring peace to our worried minds and troubled hearts…when we “stop and get out of the traffic of the world, be still to listen for God, know God and lean in to really hear God.

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”  –Your Heavenly Father, God

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 46, The Message

A Song of the Sons of Korah

46 1-3 God is a safe place to hide,
    ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
    courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
    the tremors that shift mountains.

Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
    God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

4-6 River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city,
    this sacred haunt of the Most High.
God lives here, the streets are safe,
    God at your service from crack of dawn.
Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten,
    but Earth does anything he says.

Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
    God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

8-10 Attention, all! See the marvels of God!
    He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
    breaks all the weapons across his knee.
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
    loving look at me, your High God,
    above politics, above everything.”

11 Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
    God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.

TRUTH:  God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.  So, as His witnesses, we keep telling His Story of testimony to His Greatness.  Our witness is protected by God, guided by His Holy Spirit, in the Name of Jesus, His Son!  God in Three Persons is our God of Angel Armies.  THIS is who protects us because of His great love for us.

What if we die on earth because of our belief and in our telling?  Jesus promises He has a room prepared for us to live with Him forever. 

What if sickness overcomes us?  Earth is temporary.  Nothing on earth lasts.  Our bodies are temporary tents that house our souls.  Souls who believe and follow Jesus live forever! 

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”

Proverb 17:22-24, The Message

A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
    gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.

23 The wicked take bribes under the table;
    they show nothing but contempt for justice.

24 The perceptive find wisdom in their own front yard;
    fools look for it everywhere but right here.

WISDOM:  God is right here.  God is our wisdom.  Be still means to let go of the doom and gloom attitudes and know God is in control.  He never lets go of us!

Be still and know that I AM God

Be still and know that I AM

Be still and know

Be still

Be.

Abba Father,

You are here while I read Your Word and learn from it.  You are with us who believe in every place we reside.  You love us.  You hear our voice when we call and You know us by name.  You protect us and provide for all we need…even before we ask.  You are all I need.  You are everything anyone needs.  Continue to transform us to be all you created us to be no matter what is happening around us.  You remind me, that there will always be some sort of trouble in this world, but to be still and remember the God of Angel Armies is always be my side.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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THE BRIDE OF THE KING

The story is told, from a time long ago, about a prince and a peasant girl who fell in love. This prince was a man who literally had the world at his disposal. Nothing about this man was common, and it would not be exaggerating to say that he was the perfect catch. The peasant girl, on the other hand, was nothing more than common, and at best it would be said that she was average. At worst, it was said that she was just plain ugly. There were times when she was moody, and cranky. She rarely ever lived up to her full potential to achieve all that she could. In fact, to look at her from the eyes of anyone else you would have never believed that this prince fell in love with this young girl. Yet, to see her through the eyes of the prince you would believe that she was, “to die for.”

This prince determined that he could not bear to live without her, so he asked her to be his bride. No one expected this, and the angels in heaven even listened as she accepted his proposal. The prince promised his bride that he would come back for her soon, and the peasant girl vowed to wait faithfully for his return.

You would expect at this point that the bride would always be thinking about the coming wedding, but instead she rarely even mentioned it. You would think that every waking moment would be lived out in anticipation, and preparation for the coming of her prince, but by the way she lived you wouldn’t even know that she was the bride of a perfect prince. More often than not, you could not even tell the difference between the bride and any of the other peasant girls in the village. There were even times when she could be seen flirting with the other men of the village, and many speculated and questioned what she was doing when no one was watching.

Can you imagine a peasant girl fortunate enough to have a prince such as this, offer her his eternal love? You would expect her to be overwhelmed by his love, and filled with a sense of gratitude that she was fortunate enough to be loved by him. You would think that she would be careful to remain pure in expectation of the return of her royal groom. Instead, to look at her you might wonder if she even remembered that she was engaged at all.

Is it possible for a peasant to forget about her prince?

Is it possible for a bride to forget her groom? That is a question that the Church of our day needs to answer because the story of the prince and his peasant bride is not a fairy tale or some story from medieval times. It is a story about the Church, because the Church of Jesus Christ is what the Word of God describes as the Bride of Christ. To be quite honest, much of what is passed off today as the Church of Jesus Christ appears to have forgotten about the Groom that we are committed to. This relationship is beautifully described throughout the pages of the New Testament. Understanding this relationship should give believers a better understanding of our future in Christ.

It’s clear that one “greater than Solomon” (Matt. 12:42) is present in this beautiful psalm, and that one is Jesus Christ, the King of Kings. If this were merely a secular love song, why would it be given to the chief musician to be used in the worship of the Lord at His sanctuary? That would be blasphemy. Solomon was not a warrior and certainly an inspired writer would not address Solomon as “God”. Hebrews 1:8-9 marks it as a messianic psalm, so whatever may have been the historical use of this psalm, the ultimate message is about Jesus Christ and His bride, the church (Eph. 5:23ff.Rev. 19:6-2122:17). 

Do we really believe what we say we believe about Jesus is really real?

Worship and Wisdom, Psalm and Proverbs

Psalm 45, The Message

A Wedding Song of the Sons of Korah

45 My heart bursts its banks,
    spilling beauty and goodness.
I pour it out in a poem to the king,
    shaping the river into words:

2-4 “You’re the handsomest of men;
    every word from your lips is sheer grace,
    and God has blessed you, blessed you so much.
Strap your sword to your side, warrior!
    Accept praise! Accept due honor!
    Ride majestically! Ride triumphantly!
Ride on the side of truth!
    Ride for the righteous meek!

4-5 “Your instructions are glow-in-the-dark;
    you shoot sharp arrows
Into enemy hearts; the king’s
    foes lie down in the dust, beaten.

6-7 “Your throne is God’s throne,
    ever and always;
The scepter of your royal rule
    measures right living.
You love the right
    and hate the wrong.
And that is why God, your very own God,
    poured fragrant oil on your head,
Marking you out as king
    from among your dear companions.

8-9 “Your ozone-drenched garments
    are fragrant with mountain breeze.
Chamber music—from the throne room—
    makes you want to dance.
Kings’ daughters are maids in your court,
    the Bride glittering with golden jewelry.

10-12 “Now listen, daughter, don’t miss a word:
    forget your country, put your home behind you.
Be here—the king is wild for you.
    Since he’s your lord, adore him.
Wedding gifts pour in from Tyre;
    rich guests shower you with presents.”

13-15 (Her wedding dress is dazzling,
    lined with gold by the weavers;
All her dresses and robes
    are woven with gold.
She is led to the king,
    followed by her virgin companions.
A procession of joy and laughter!
    a grand entrance to the king’s palace!)

16-17 “Set your mind now on sons—
    don’t dote on father and grandfather.
You’ll set your sons up as princes
    all over the earth.
I’ll make you famous for generations;
    you’ll be the talk of the town
    for a long, long time.”

TRUTH:  Jesus Christ is King.  We are the bride of Christ as believers gathered as His church.  “A procession of joy and laughter, a grand entrance to the King’s palace” is a metaphor of all who believe being escorted into God’s Presence on that day of the return of the Groom for His Bride.  Are we ready?

Proverb 17:17-20, The Message

It’s stupid to try to get something for nothing,
    or run up huge bills you can never pay.

19 The person who courts sin marries trouble;
    build a wall, invite a burglar.

20 A bad motive can’t achieve a good end;
    double-talk brings you double trouble.

WISDOM:  Our behavior reveals our true identity in Christ.  Are we courting sin or the Savior?  What or Who are our motivations for living life? 

Do we really believe what we say we believe about Jesus is really real?

Abba Father, Lord and Savior,

We are reminded today that You are coming for your Bride, the church of believers, who love and live expectantly for your return.  Are we preparing for the “wedding” well, Lord?  Lord, help us to grow in our intimate love for you, not looking away at anyone or anything else but You.  Help us to point others to You.  Bring us all together in unity as we wait expectantly for you.  May what we say we believe be reflected in our behavior today.  We are the Bride.  You are the Groom, the King of kings and Lord of lords.  Why turn away from life eternal with you?  There is no one like you!  And thank you for loving me–the mess with a message of your mercy and grace.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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GOD, WE HAVE QUESTIONS!

As we move through this worldwide pandemic along with other disasters happening around us, we are unsettled.  Nothing is as it was.  Nothing, according to us, is as it should be.  We rebel against whatever is not our “normal’ while blaming whoever gets in our way of trying to maintain our normal.  The pandemic is affecting every part of our being and we are uncomfortable.  People are dying, but until it touches our family, we are only pridefully uncomfortable and we complain.  We complain about everything in the workplace, at home, and in our church, if we go there.  Our comfort level has been tested and we are not happy.  When this happens to humans, exhausted by blaming all the humans around them, we then question God.  Why isn’t HE doing something about our discomfort and the anxiety it is giving us in our unsettledness?

It could be worse.  If we set aside our pandemic complaining for a beat and think about the spreading virus of evil with resulting lostness of souls in our world, our questions might be different. Our perspective may change.  We might even begin to humble ourselves and pray for help from the God who saves us!

In our Psalm today, God’s people are being mocked, ridiculed, and beaten for believing in God.  They heard stories of better days with God leading them from their elders.  They are asking God why He can’t do something about their condition and quality of life now.  They are frustrated and fearful.  Does that ring true with us today? 

PAUSE TO PRAYFULLY CONSIDER…

  1. Do you sometimes doubt God’s presence? Do you think God is withdrawing His blessing from America, from the World? Explain.
  2. How might personal tragedy be one of the best things a believer can experience?

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 44, The Message

1-3 We’ve been hearing about this, God,
    all our lives.
Our fathers told us the stories
    their fathers told them,
How single-handedly you weeded out the godless
    from the fields and planted us,
How you sent those people packing
    but gave us a fresh start.
We didn’t fight for this land;
    we didn’t work for it—it was a gift!
You gave it, smiling as you gave it,
    delighting as you gave it.

4-8 You’re my King, O God—
    command victories for Jacob!
With your help we’ll wipe out our enemies,
    in your name we’ll stomp them to dust.
I don’t trust in weapons;
    my sword won’t save me—
But it’s you, you who saved us from the enemy;
    you made those who hate us lose face.
All day we parade God’s praise—
    we thank you by name over and over.

9-12 But now you’ve walked off and left us,
    you’ve disgraced us and won’t fight for us.
You made us turn tail and run;
    those who hate us have cleaned us out.
You delivered us as sheep to the butcher,
    you scattered us to the four winds.
You sold your people at a discount—
    you made nothing on the sale.

13-16 You made people on the street,
    urchins, poke fun and call us names.
You made us a joke among the godless,
    a cheap joke among the rabble.
Every day I’m up against it,
    my nose rubbed in my shame—
Gossip and ridicule fill the air,
    people out to get me crowd the street.

17-19 All this came down on us,
    and we’ve done nothing to deserve it.
We never betrayed your Covenant: our hearts
    were never false, our feet never left your path.
Do we deserve torture in a den of jackals?
    or lockup in a black hole?

20-22 If we had forgotten to pray to our God
    or made fools of ourselves with store-bought gods,
Wouldn’t God have figured this out?
    We can’t hide things from him.
No, you decided to make us martyrs,
    lambs assigned for sacrifice each day.

23-26 Get up, God! Are you going to sleep all day?
    Wake up! Don’t you care what happens to us?
Why do you bury your face in the pillow?
    Why pretend things are just fine with us?
And here we are—flat on our faces in the dirt,
    held down with a boot on our necks.
Get up and come to our rescue.
    If you love us so much, Help us!

TRUTH:  We can’t hide things from God.  Be honest before Him.

GOING DEEPER…(With help from Warren Wiersbe, Commentator)

The Jewish people sang praises to God after their great victories (Ex. 15Judg. 5), but this psalm was sung after a humiliating defeat (vv. 9-1422). The four stanzas that make up this psalm reveal four different attitudes on the part of the people.  I think we can learn from how they prayed to God in their difficulties and defeat.

  1. Boasting in God: “You Have Helped Us” (vv. 1-8). Reviewing Israel’s history since the exodus from Egypt, the writer glorified God for all He did to defeat the Canaanite nations and enable Israel to claim their inheritance (v. 8). The Jewish parents were faithful to obey God and tell their children and grandchildren what the Lord had done. God had rooted out the godless nations, planted Israel in the land, and enabled the nation to take root and grow. All of this was done, not because Israel deserved it, but because of God’s love and grace. God’s power gave the victory, and His countenance smiled upon His people.  The psalmist affirmed that Jehovah was still their King and could easily command (decree) victories for His people. The nation wanted no glory for itself; they wanted the Lord to receive all the glory.
  2. Forsaken by God: “You Are Not Helping Us” (vv. 9-16). But the people were perplexed. If God gave them the land in His grace and enabled them to defeat their enemies, why was He now forsaking them and allowing the idolatrous nations to win the victories? Now He seemed to have forsaken His people and abandoned His covenant. Israel was God’s precious flock, but He was permitting them to be slaughtered by the enemy and treated as worthless.  Those prisoners of war who weren’t slain were sold as slaves and scattered among the neighboring pagan nations. These nations rejoiced that Israel had been humiliated by defeat, and they taunted and ridiculed the Jews. It was a dark day for the people of God, and they could not understand what the Lord was accomplishing. Dishonor and disgrace brought the people to the place of submission and intercession.
  3. Faithful to God: “You Should Help Us” (vv. 17-22). Whenever there was trouble in Israel, the first explanation was usually “Somebody has sinned.” But as far as the psalmist knew, there was no sin to be confessed because the people were faithful to the Lord. God could search their minds and hearts and not find any breach of the covenant. They were faithful to God, they had not turned to the idols for help, and now they were giving their lives to protect the land that He had so graciously given them. 

Paul quoted verse 11 in Romans 8:36 as part of his magnificent argument that nothing could separate God’s people from His love, not even defeat after a record of victories! The principle is the same for both God’s old covenant people and His new covenant people: Those who give their lives in His cause are conquerors, not victims; and God can be glorified even in seeming defeat. 

When the five young men gave their lives in Ecuador to help reach the Auca Indians, many people asked, “Why this waste?” But what looked like terrible defeat turned out to be glorious victory as many young people around the world felt the call of God and surrendered to serve Him. Israel’s defeat didn’t mean that God loved them less; it meant that He was permitting this to happen so that He could carry out a purpose known only to Him.

No matter how their lives may end, God’s servants never die like beasts, for “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (116:15 nkjv), even in a pandemic!

4. Trusting in God: “You Will Help Us” (vv. 23-26). In verse 23, the writer used the name “Adonai” (Lord) when speaking to God. This is the name that declares that He is Owner and Master of all, including the nations of the world. He is “Lord [Adonai] of the whole earth” (97:5), and the earth should tremble “at the presence of the Lord [Adonai]” (114:7).

The psalmist came to the place where he knew he could trust God to handle the defeats of life and ultimately turn them into victories. Yes, it seemed like God was asleep, and the nation had to awaken Him (7:678:65), but “He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep” (121:4 nkjv). The people of Israel had come to the place that Job reached when he said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him” (Job 13:15).

We can’t always explain the so-called tragedies of life, especially those that happen to God’s people, but Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible. The prophet Isaiah gives us wise counsel in 50:10: “Who is among you that fears the Lord that obeys the voice of His servant, that walks in darkness and has no light? Let him trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God” (nasb). We may look like sheep for the slaughter, but in God’s sight we are “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

Proverb 17:16, The Message

“Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.”

WISDOM:  Stay with God.  Through pandemics, hurricanes, and other storms of life, stick close together as believers of God.  The glue that holds together and never fails is the love of Jesus who died for all our sins, rose again defeating death, and is now our advocate in heaven who is preparing a “room” for us in God’s House.  Our forever home!

Abba Father,

We come to you today with gratitude and trust that you know what is best right now.  We repent of complaining and blaming.  We ask that you forgive our selfish pride and help us to be still and know You are God.  You will never leave or forsake us.  Your love never changes and your faithfulness is with limits.  Your love is unchanging and knows no bounds or conditions.  Thank you, Lord.  Thank you for saving our souls.  Thank you for being with us through floods and famines, pandemics and storms of all kinds.  We are more than conquerors because of your love for us.  Thank you for teaching us today, giving us more wisdom and insight to live well here while waiting to live with you there.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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CORRECTION IN DIRECTION

Funny thing happened to us in the midst of a troubling day last week.  It was a day of problem solving, a day we didn’t plan, but never the less it came.  It was nothing earth shattering, just inconveniences that needed to be fixed or solved.  One of those problems was a very leaky faucet in the bathtub.  It required the shutting off our main water supply to the house so the leak could be fixed.  When we got into it, as go most household fixes at times, we saw quickly that more professional help was needed. 

We called a plumber that was recommend by family members, with the commentary, “he is a bit strange, but he is good”.  That was a correct evaluation.  This guy was likable, knowledgeable but lacked GPS abilities to get him from one job to another.  My husband had to go find him and bring him to our house, for example.  As our guy, who looks a lot like “Doc” in Back to the Future, is working on our leak, he discovers he needs a new part to fix the problem.  So, “Christopher Lloyd” leaves to get the part somewhere in the city.  He then calls from some unknown area that is unfamiliar to him.  He is lost.  Again.  My husband had to go find him and bring him back once more so he could finish the work.  By the way, this guy was a genius at his work!

We laugh about this now, but aren’t we like that with God?  I would answer, YES, and often!  “God, we are lost again, can you help us find our way back?”  “God, we are in unfamiliar territory, where are we?  “God, help me!”  Yes, we lose our way because we lay down our GPS…God’s Plan Secured…for our plan that leads to lostness and insecurity.  Just made that up, do you like it?  Better question, do you “get it”? 

We wonder why we end up in places that we shouldn’t be that lead to lostness.  We stop talking AND listening to God.  We stop reading and studying His Word.  We listen more to the world’s view of life than God Way of Life eternal.  We ultimately discover that we left the Lighted Path that leads to Life and went our own way, leaving our “GPS” behind. 

God has given us salvation through His Son, wisdom when we ask in conversation to Him, His Word to guide us in His ways, and His Holy Spirit to correct our direction when we make a wrong turn.  What more can we ask for in this life?  I really don’t know, is my answer.  God is more than enough.  God puts a smile on my face, too!

When troubles come, seek God.

When resolutions with peace abounds, praise God.

When we lose our way, ask God for correction in our Direction.

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 43, The Message

1-2 Clear my name, God; stick up for me
    against these loveless, immoral people.
Get me out of here, away
    from these lying degenerates.
I counted on you, God.
    Why did you walk out on me?
Why am I pacing the floor, wringing my hands
    over these outrageous people?

3-4 Give me your lantern and compass,
    give me a map,
So I can find my way to the sacred mountain,
    to the place of your presence,
To enter the place of worship,
    meet my exuberant God,
Sing my thanks with a harp,
    magnificent God, my God.

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.

TRUTH:  Fix our eyes on God.  He is our God of Direction to all things good and right. 

Proverb 17:9-16, The Message

Overlook an offense and bond a friendship;
    fasten on to a slight and—good-bye, friend!

10 A quiet rebuke to a person of good sense
    does more than a whack on the head of a fool.

11 Criminals out looking for nothing but trouble
    won’t have to wait long—they’ll meet it coming and going!

12 Better to meet a grizzly robbed of her cubs
    than a fool hellbent on folly.

13 Those who return evil for good
    will meet their own evil returning.

14 The start of a quarrel is like a leak in a dam,
    so stop it before it bursts.

15 Whitewashing bad people and throwing mud on good people
    are equally abhorrent to God.

16 What’s this? Fools out shopping for wisdom!
    They wouldn’t recognize it if they saw it!

WISDOM:  Shopping for wisdom in the world is foolish.  Asking for God’s wisdom gives life, abundant and eternal.

Abba Father,

Give me a map so I can find my way to You, God!  I trust that you will Light the Path that is right and good for me.  You have a plan that is unique and best for me.  I want to follow your will and plan for your purposes to be fulfilled in me.  Correct my direction when needed as I follow you.  Forgive my missteps and correct my course.

In Jesus Name, Amen

And we sing…”Holy Water”…

God, I’m on my knees again
God, I’m begging please again
I need You
Oh, I need You

Walking down this desert road
Water for my thirsty soul
I need You
Oh, I need You

Your forgiveness
Is like sweet, sweet honey
On my lips
Like the sound of a symphony
To my ears
Like holy water on my skin (hey)

Dead man walking, slave to sin
I wanna know about being born again
I need You
Oh, God, I need You

So, take me to the riverside
Take me under, baptize
I need You
Oh, God, I need You

Your forgiveness
Is like sweet, sweet honey
On my lips
Like the sound of a symphony
To my ears
Like holy water on my skin
On my skin

I don’t wanna abuse Your grace
God, I need it every day
It’s the only thing that ever really
Makes me wanna change
I don’t wanna abuse Your grace
God, I need it every day
It’s…

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HE IS MY GOD, HE IS MY SONG!

There are some D words that can utterly debilitate us, causing us to lose focus on the One who loves us first and loves us best.  The words that come to mind are down, depressed, derailed, dejected, discouraged, downhearted, downcast, disconsolate, destroyed and dispirited.  These words form into equally stressing descriptive phrases such as down in the dumps, down and out, and down for the count. 

But hold on!  What we have here is a vision problem.  We are looking in the wrong direction…down!  We should be looking up, right into the eyes of our Lord and Savior!  Up is always better than down, directionally, spiritually and emotionally speaking.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the Light of His glory and grace

This childhood chorus has pulled me out of the dumps more than a million times over the years of my life.  These simple words of Truth pull my focused vision back to Jesus who loved me enough to die for my sins.  My eyes look up for His direction, (a better D word!).  When I look up my ears suddenly open to hear His voice above all others with encouragement that defeats my foe of discouragement.  He lifts my broken spirit immediately when I look up humbly from bent knees.  My perspective changes because He is changing my mind.  He lifts me up and helps me stand on the solid rock of his love and grace.  Like David sings, He puts a smile back on my face! 

He IS my God!   

When people ask me, “where is this God of yours?”, like the enemies of Jesus asked Him on the cross, I sing the Song again, He is right here where He has always been.  Look up, focus and live!

Oh soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There’s light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn your eyes upon Jesus…

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 42, The Message

1-3 A white-tailed deer drinks
    from the creek;
I want to drink God,
    deep draughts of God.
I’m thirsty for God-alive.
I wonder, “Will I ever make it—
    arrive and drink in God’s presence?”
I’m on a diet of tears—
    tears for breakfast, tears for supper.
All day long
    people knock at my door,
Pestering,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

These are the things I go over and over,
    emptying out the pockets of my life.
I was always at the head of the worshiping crowd,
    right out in front,
Leading them all,
    eager to arrive and worship,
Shouting praises, singing thanksgiving—
    celebrating, all of us, God’s feast!

Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.

6-8 When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse
    everything I know of you,
From Jordan depths to Hermon heights,
    including Mount Mizar.
Chaos calls to chaos,
    to the tune of whitewater rapids.
Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers
    crash and crush me.
Then God promises to love me all day,
    sing songs all through the night!
    My life is God’s prayer.

9-10 Sometimes I ask God, my rock-solid God,
    “Why did you let me down?
Why am I walking around in tears,
    harassed by enemies?”
They’re out for the kill, these
    tormentors with their obscenities,
Taunting day after day,
    “Where is this God of yours?”

11 Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul?
    Why are you crying the blues?
Fix my eyes on God—
    soon I’ll be praising again.
He puts a smile on my face.
    He’s my God.

TRUTH:  Fix your eyes on God and soon you will be praising again!

Proverb 17:6-8, The Message

Old people are distinguished by grandchildren;
    children take pride in their parents.

We don’t expect eloquence from fools,
    nor do we expect lies from our leaders.

Receiving a gift is like getting a rare gemstone;
    any way you look at it, you see beauty refracted.

WISDOM:  Do we get bitter or better with age?  Again, it’s how you see life.  Give, there’s real beauty in giving.  Leave a legacy of focused vision on God.

Abba Father,

My eyes look up to you for everything I need at this very hour.  You always begin my day with your love, mercy and grace.  Show me your ways and I will obey for you are the only one I trust with my life.  Thank you for changing my direction and saving my soul.  Thank you for not giving up on me when I am down.  Thank you for lifting me up as I look up.

In Jesus Name, Amen

AND then God gives us a NEW SONG…”Famous For” by Tauren Wells

There is no fear, ’cause I believe
There is no doubt, ’cause I have seen
Your faithfulness, my fortress, over and over

I have a hope found in Your name
I have a strength found in Your grace
Your faithfulness, my fortress, over and over

Make way through the waters
Walk me through the fire
Do what You are famous for
What You are famous for

Shut the mouths of lions
Bring dry bones to life and
Do what You are famous for
What You are famous for

I believe in You
God, I believe in You

Release Your love inside of me
Unleash Your power, for all to see
Spirit, come, and fall on us
Over and over, oh Lord

Make way through the waters
Walk me through the fire
Do what You are famous for
What You are famous for…

He IS my God!

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PUT ME TOGETHER AGAIN…

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 41, The Message

A David Psalm

41 1-3 Dignify those who are down on their luck;
    you’ll feel good—that’s what God does.
God looks after us all,
    makes us robust with life—
Lucky to be in the land,
    we’re free from enemy worries.
Whenever we’re sick and in bed,
    God becomes our nurse,
    nurses us back to health.

4-7 I said, “God, be gracious!
    Put me together again—
    my sins have torn me to pieces.”
My enemies are wishing the worst for me;
    they make bets on what day I will die.
If someone comes to see me,
    he mouths empty platitudes,
All the while gathering gossip about me
    to entertain the street-corner crowd.
These “friends” who hate me
    whisper slanders all over town.
They form committees
    to plan misery for me.

10 God, give grace, get me up on my feet.
    I’ll show them a thing or two.

8-9 The rumor goes out, “He’s got some dirty,
    deadly disease. The doctors
    have given up on him.”
Even my best friend, the one I always told everything
    —he ate meals at my house all the time!—
    has bitten my hand.

11-12 Meanwhile, I’m sure you’re on my side—
    no victory shouts yet from the enemy camp!
You know me inside and out, you hold me together,
    you never fail to stand me tall in your presence
    so I can look you in the eye.

13 Blessed is God, Israel’s God,
    always, always, always.
    Yes. Yes. Yes.,

TRUTH:  God knows us inside and out and still loves us, protects us, nurses back to health in all kinds of ways, provides help and wisdom when we ask sincerely and forgives our sins and mistakes from disobedience to His perfect will and plan for us!  THIS is why we are grateful and shout His praises daily and forever!  Yes and Amen!

Proverb 17:1-5, The Message

A meal of bread and water in contented peace
    is better than a banquet spiced with quarrels.

A wise servant takes charge of an unruly child
    and is honored as one of the family.

As silver in a crucible and gold in a pan,
    so our lives are assayed by God.

Evil people relish malicious conversation;
    the ears of liars itch for dirty gossip.

Whoever mocks poor people insults their Creator;
    gloating over misfortune is a punishable crime.

WISDOM:  God “assays our lives” to see what is real gold is in us.  Knowing this truth must lead us to think first then act.  Think first, then speak.  Is what I’m about to say, from my heart, Truthful, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind?  If the answer is no to any one of these filters, then it is probably gossip meant to selfishly build up ourselves not others. 

Abba Father,

God, help us.  Give us your wisdom daily, hourly if need be, until obedience to you is our continual habit of life.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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